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Resumption of Russia-Egypt air links depends on pandemic situation - ambassador

Georgy Borisenko, however, stressed, that the dates when this might happen largely depended on the realities of the novel coronavirus pandemic

CAIRO, May 3. /TASS/. The resumption of charter flights between Russia and Egypt’s health resorts should be expected within months, but the dates will depend heavily on the novel coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s ambassador to Egypt, Georgy Borisenko, said in Hurghada on Monday.

"On April 23, the presidents of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, agreed to resume air links between Russian cities and Red Sea health resorts. Now it is up to the aviation authorities and security agencies to complete the whole package of the necessary measures needed for the resumption of flights," he said. "On the basis of the presidential instructions, the aviation authorities and security services are already working on the issue. Hopefully, flights will begin to be restored within months."

Borisenko, however, stressed, that the dates when this might happen largely depended on the realities of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"As we’ve seen, the airports of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh have done a good job to improve security," he said. "But, alongside security-related issues, there is the pandemic situation for us to bear in mind."

Borisenko said the situation in Egypt remained stable at the moment, yet it might turn unpredictable any time.

"We’ve seen an upsurge of the coronavirus pandemic in India and the situation in Russia is not straightforward at all, so the resumption of flights will depend heavily on the pandemic situation," he stressed.

"Most tourist industry personnel in Hurghada and Shar el-Sheikh have already had at least the first shot of the anti-coronavirus vaccine," he added.

During the trip to Hurghada Borisenko met with the governor of the Red Sea Governorate, Amr Hanafi.

All air links between Russia and Egypt were put on hold indefinitely in November 2015, after the loss of a passenger plane of the Kogalymavia airlines, en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, over the Sinai Peninsula. All 217 passengers and seven crew died in the disaster. Russia’s federal security service FSB qualified the incident as a terrorist attack.

In January 2018, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the resumption of regular flights to Cairo. The first flight from Moscow followed four months later, in April. Charter flights to Egypt’s health resorts remain suspended. In recent years Egypt has improved the passenger and luggage control systems and fundamentally upgraded its airport infrastructure.